This week the IATSE started a blog:
Look, I applaud the IATSE for finally getting involved on a digital front but this is just plain silly.
Seriously, IA4TheFuture? Did they consult any pro-union VFX workers about this?
You see, that’s been the problem with the IATSE leadership. Some of us who have been incredibly pro-union have extended our hand to help and we’ve been given the back hand.
Past, Present, Future?
Artists will probably wonder if the IATSE is really for the future given their reluctance to even talk about the past or present.
I’ve seen no effort to propose an outline of the benefits they’ve afforded workers in the past. I’ve also seen no effort to give even a reaction to some of the biggest news of the present: Hello Pixar ILM collusion case? That was a gift and it was squandered.
Other Organizing Efforts
Contrast that to the effort by The Animation Guild, an IATSE local that already represents many VFX artists. They have a website that presents what they offer clearly and concisely. They have a presence on twitter and a blog to help get the facts out. When the Pixar/ILM collusion case was going down, TAG offered access to one of the top anti-trust lawyers in the state.
Furthermore, compare if you will, the United Food and Commercial Workers‘ effort to organize the employees of Fresh and Easy groceries. You can see billboards around town encouraging people to read about their organizing drive. They have a website that outlines what they intend to offer to interested workers.
The Wrong Way
But the IATSE wants to go about it a different way and so they ponder:
For the life of me, I cannot understand why we haven’t been deluged with inquiries and authorization cards from people working at the companies specializing in subcontracts from the Major Motion Picture Studios who are producing Series for the big broadcast networks!!
I’ll tell you why, because artists are misinformed with what you have to offer. Then we get this:
Recently, we’ve been deluged with correspondence reiterating the “last nail in the coffin” argument. Employers have been successful in planting the seeds of doubt about the long-term economic effects if this industry were to be subject to a collective bargaining agreement.
The employers haven’t done anything to stop the unionization effort. In fact, if they wanted to crush any unionization effort by vfx artists they can just invite the IATSE leadership to organize it!
As soon as we have the necessary information, like; how much is the prevailing wage rate at these companies? do they pay overtime? do they provide any benefits? and how much do those benefits cost, we’ll sit down with them and work out the details of a fair contract.
I have to agree with Eric Alba’s response to this. They’ve had over a year to figure this out. They’ve had a labor organizer dedicated full time to this and some of the most basic questions are still unanswered?
It’s pretty easy to get that info. Check my MVPs section, I gathered a ton of wage information for everyone to see. Go to vfxwages.com. Hell, why not call The Animation Guild!? Your own local is already representing a huge amount of vfx artists in the industry.
History Repeating Itself
Back in 2003 Imageworks had a chance to sign a collective bargaining agreement with The Animation Guild. If you talked to the artists there at the time they will all tell you the IATSE leaders totally squandered the effort. How? According to various artists, there was no information presented at all. It’s the exact same mistake they are making now. Even former TAG members voted against unionization simply because of the back-handed effort by IATSE leadership.
Look if they aren’t going to bother to listen to the very people they want to represent then please give us the rep cards back that we signed. For the artists without portable benefits or the enforcement of basic labor laws, I’m sorry. This has been a squandered opportunity and we are just going to have to accept it and soldier on.